General chatter - My son's birthday dinner has turned into a fiasco




ddc
07-16-2008, 05:57 PM
So what would you do?

My son is turning 11 next Monday and he wants to go to a restuarant to celebrate. I invited my mother and her husband to attend.
She asked if I was going to ask my brother and his wife and I initially said no, because I didn't want to pay for his. So, she offered to pay for theirs.
So, I called my brother and asked him to come and as I was talking, my son asked me who I was talking to and he said "NO, I don't want hime to come". Now, I don't know what to do.
I feel like he hurt my brother's feelings, but I really only invited them because of my mom and I didn't want to hurt her feelings. Now, I wish I hadn't invited anybody!!
I also feel like my son's a little brat for acting that way. I know I'm over thinking/obsessing.
Oh well, life goes on.....:dizzy:


SunshineRunner
07-16-2008, 06:05 PM
Your son is turning 11. I don't know what his problem is with his Uncle - however, I'd personally give a lesson on respect and courtesy and be done with it.

Pixiesue
07-16-2008, 06:10 PM
i would explore why your son doesn't want his uncle there and if his reasons are valid then follow his wishes, if not then explain family, duty and responsibility to him


ddc
07-16-2008, 06:36 PM
Thanks for your replies.

They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.

full of grace
07-16-2008, 06:55 PM
Thanks for your replies.

They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.

Sounds like a great chance to teach your son that now--finally, after a year--he is old enough and mature enough to practice the art of forgiveness.

That you know it will be hard for him to tolerate his uncle's presence at the party, but adults are often put in situations where they're around people they don't like or even respect.

And as an older, more mature boy than he was last year, it is time to practice the art of forgiveness and attempt to stretch toward adulthood just a little bit.

:D

That's what I'd try, anyway.

Sorry you're feeling stress about what should be a happy event! Hope you ALL get past it with lots of love and grace!

SoulBliss
07-16-2008, 08:21 PM
They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.

Personally, I wouldn't let anyone (especially an adult!) around my child if they reacted with physical violence as a response to words, UNTIL the issue had been properly resolved with BOTH of them, and a mutually respectful arrangement was reached.

In my experience, a small, healthy, functional family is better than a dysfunctional but larger one. Been there, done that!

Best of luck. :^:

tommy
07-16-2008, 08:34 PM
Oh the drama of "hurt feelings" in family situations! At age 11 I think your son is old enough to write his uncle a note and say he was not being mean, but he still feels hurt about the spoon incident. A talk about forgiveness is something you probably did already, but at under age 10 when the incident occurred your guy was probably shocked and felt betrayed so hanging onto the resentment is pretty understandable. The note gets it out in a mature way, and then it is up to the adult to act like an adult. Let it be your brother's choice if he wants to come or not. Just my 2 cents. Good luck. I feel for you on the tension this creates.

vixjean
07-16-2008, 08:35 PM
I think the uncle owes you and him an apology. Maybe you could sit and talk about it together.

midwife
07-16-2008, 11:27 PM
Personally, I wouldn't let anyone (especially an adult!) around my child if they reacted with physical violence as a response to words, UNTIL the issue had been properly resolved with BOTH of them, and a mutually respectful arrangement was reached.

In my experience, a small, healthy, functional family is better than a dysfunctional but larger one. Been there, done that!

Best of luck. :^:


Agree 100%. And I would not want anyone to come to my birthday if they had hit me with anything. :?:

broadabroad
07-16-2008, 11:29 PM
God, me too - your brother is 40 years old. Smacking a 10 year old over the head with a metal spoon is NOT an appropriate response to frustration, even if the kid said something "mean". I'm with the kid on this one - why the heck would he want to spend his birthday pretending to be friends with the man who hit him? (And that's not just about the physical pain - that's also about the humiliation he felt and the feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability when a fully grown man smacked him in the head.)

His birthday is supposed to be a fun day for him, not a trial where he's supposed to suck it up and feel bitter and humiliated and put-upon.

Sure, your son should be polite to adults. Yes.

BUT HE WAS TEN. Your brother's response was WAY out of line. If his feelings can be hurt by a ten year old, he maybe shouldn't be around ten year olds.

When kids hurt your feelings, you're supposed to be the adult, and TELL them that they've hurt your feelings, and make them feel bad about it - "I still love you, but what you just said really upset me. Maybe you weren't trying to hurt me then, but you made me feel bad. I really hope I've never hurt your feelings the way you just hurt mine - if I did, then I'm sorry about that. We're still friends, but I don't think I want to be around you just now." Calmly, and in a disappointed voice. That kind of thing - emotional blackmail ROCKS for breaking them much more effectively than intimidation. They don't really understand that you're regular vulnerable people yet - and it's our job as adults to socialise the little buggers by showing them the RIGHT way to deal with hurt feelings.

Your brother is teaching your son that violence is an appropriate response to frustration. Violence towards a smaller, weaker, more vulnerable person. Do you want your son to punch a KG kid who's rude to him at school? I'm guessing no. But if you imply that your brother's behaviour was okay, then that's exactly what you're teaching him - that you approve of that kind of behaviour.

...sorry, I know I'm sounding very soapboxy here, but I'm a teacher. I spend 8 hours a day surrounded by 8 year olds, and I feel pretty strongly about modelling appropriate conflict-resolution stuff for them. (And when they hurt my feelings, I tell them so, and let them see that they made me feel bad. And because our relationship is not based on intimidation, but rather on courtesy, fairness and mutual respect, they don't WANT to make me feel bad, and it doesn't become some big fight thing. There is never any question who's in charge, mind you - I absolutely am, and I don't take any crap. But I also don't try to hurt or humiliate them in order to prove my authority. And I'm quick to give them another chance to prove themselves, and to get their dignity and self-respect back, if they've been told off.)

Um. Sorry, none of that is terribly practical.

Since you seem to have talked yourself into a bit of a corner here, you could maybe sit down and talk to your son about it. Explain your problem, and ask him to help you solve it (because he's getting to be a grown up now himself), emphasizing that it's HIS birthday, and your main priority is giving him a special day (within your limits of budget and practicality), but that you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. His most of all, but you also want to find a win-win solution, where nobody goes away feeling bruised.

Acknowledge his feelings about your brother, and that he's got a right to feel that way - but that you're trying to help him keep a door open in that relationship rather than burning bridges. (And if he decides later on in life that he wants to burn that bridge, then he's got the right to do that - but for now, you'd like him to try not to take that step - because you're not always going to be there, and you want to know that he's got a network of supportive adults out there who can help him if that should ever be needful.)

Figure out what he'd most like to do, and with whom - because this isn't about your mom, or your brother. It should be about your boy, and your relationship with HIM. Does he want to go out for dinner? Or would he rather go bowling, or to a movie, or go do something with his best friend? Make a list of options with him - dinner with you, dinner with you and your mum, dinner with you and mum and uncle, dinner with you and his best friend, Kung Fu Panda with you and his best friend - whatever. And weigh up the pros and cons of each.

This can actually become a good thing, I think - you can turn this into a way of making him feel respected as a young man, and give him some power here, but also give him an awareness of consequences - so if he opts for 'tell Uncle he's not invited', then okay - but he needs to help you to minimise the fallout, so he's going to need to suck it up and maybe write a polite note apologising for hurting his uncle's feelings when he was younger, and explaining that what his uncle did really upset him, but hoping that they can get past this and get to be better friends as he grows older - maybe even set some kind of alternative date in a few months for another family event. Something like that.

Good luck, whatever you choose!

EZMONEY
07-16-2008, 11:31 PM
NO WAY would I ever think abuse is OK...but maybe...could it have been... just a little knock on the head that was a little too hard...by accident by a knucklehead uncle?

SoulBliss
07-17-2008, 12:12 AM
I agree with the last several posters (especially Broadabroad!).

NO WAY would I ever think abuse is OK...but maybe...could it have been... just a little knock on the head that was a little too hard...by accident by a knucklehead uncle?

An accident, like getting hurt while playing around, roughhousing in a fun way, is *way* different than an angry, immature and inappropriate response like hitting a child with a metal object...The worst part is, his *then* not dealing with it appropriately afterwards and that only ads insult to injury.

EZMONEY
07-17-2008, 12:53 AM
OK...don't want to debate abuse here, this thread isn't about that....but ddc said it was a little incident...a reaction by an adult to something mean said by a 10 year old boy.

I pictured an uncle sitting there next to his nephew eating dinner...the boy says something mean and the uncle, without thinking, pops the boy on the head with a spoon....I am not picturing a guy beating a boy down with a spoon here...less than the smacks I got across the back of my legs, from my mom with her flip-flops, when my 10 yr. old mouth flared up

I agree it wasn't too smart...but I just don't see it as abuse.

There may be more to the story but ddc didn't say that, unless I missed it anyway.

SoulBliss
07-17-2008, 12:59 AM
OK...don't want to debate abuse here, this thread isn't about that....but ddc said it was a little incident...a reaction by an adult to something mean said by a 10 year old boy.

I pictured an uncle sitting there next to his nephew eating dinner...the boy says something mean and the uncle, without thinking, pops the boy on the head with a spoon....I am not picturing a guy beating a boy down with a spoon here...less than the smacks I got across the back of my legs, from my mom with her flip-flops, when my 10 yr. old mouth flared up

I agree it wasn't too smart...but I just don't see it as abuse.

There may be more to the story but ddc didn't say that, unless I missed it anyway.

I'm thinking like a mandated reporter. :) "Violence" and "abuse" involve striking with an object (especially when out of anger) and/or leaving a mark.

At any rate, the underlying message is the same, be it a hanger, a hand, a belt or, yes, even a spoon. It represents an inappropriate response and an imbalance of and abuse of power. The fact that there are still hurt and unresolved feelings a year later, shows that the uncle didn't talk it out and make amends (as Boradabroad outlined) AND/OR that the child still has unresolved feelings about it that need to be addressed and his feelings need to be respected.

kaplods
07-17-2008, 01:24 AM
I'm not really going to get into the defining line of abuse, but I think there's alot more going on here than one single incident. Kids are usually more forgiving of an adult's bad behavior, if the relationship is fairly positive. One incident, especially as described, doesn't usually traumatize them to the point they don't ever want to see the adult again. Something more is going on here. Either the adult has a pattern of humiliating and hurting the child
or there was a much more severe incident that the child or you haven't shared (and I'm not asking you to, here).

It's just in my own family, and the many families I worked with when I worked in social work, I've learned that it takes a LOT for a child to want an adult out of their life, if there's been any positive aspects to the relationship at all. Even when kids are horrendously abused, if they've had a handful of GOOD memories with the adult, they tend to want the person in their life and will even work pretty hard to maintain the relationship.

I'm not saying that there's some hideous abuse going on, but the relationship between your son and your brother has been damaged significantly, and I doubt that it's just because of being whacked with a spoon once. Even if the outburst scared the heck out of your son, if he had very positive experiences with your brother, he wouldn't still be holding a grudge a year later (unless holding grudges is what your family does, then he's just practicing what he's learned).

I had an uncle who was an alcoholic. He was never overtly mean, but at family gatherings, when he drank too much, he would spill beer on me. To me, it seemed intentional, though even now I'm not completely sure. I hated it so much, and he seemed to get such a kick out of seeing the fuss I would throw. I mean it literally was traumatic - I still can't stand the smell of beer to the point that I often feel like vomiting if the stench of beer is too overwhelming. I remember having to leave a college party (outdoors) because someone had knocked over a keg and beer was flowing down the sidewalk and it got on my shoes - I had to go back to the dorm and I actually threw away the shoes. That's a pretty extreme reaction, and I wouldn't have asked my parents to keep him away from family gatherings, because he was fun to be around when he wasn't drinking.

I'd have a long talk with your son to find out ALL of the reasons he doesn't want his uncle there, because I really don't think it's being wacked with a spoon once (unless it drew blood and he had to go to the emergency room for stitches, or some other reason the incident was more traumatic than it generally would be to a ten year old boy).

SoulBliss
07-17-2008, 01:31 AM
Kaplods, I agree with your post too. You went into greater detail and outlined what I meant when I said "inappropriate response", "imbalance of and abuse of power" and "unresolved feelings".

danemom
07-17-2008, 03:20 AM
I guess I'm going to be the dissenting voice here. I will preface this by saying that I am under the impression that it was a pop with the spoon, and not a louisville slugger whack. That said I think a lesson in manners and what is and is not appropriate for a child to say to an adult is needed. Second if this one incident is all that is bothering this kid about his uncle, he needs to get over himself and move on. Wallowing in this is not healthy and letting an almost 11 year old think that this is appropriate behavior is wrong. But then I'm not a coddling type of parent.

Now assuming that this is my kid and my brother, and it was more then a pop, my brother would have had a quick, unforgettable lesson in how NOT to discipline my child and my child a lesson in how to speak to adults. Then both need to pull on there big boy pants and get a long.

I have to ask, what is the boy's position on accepting a present from this uncle.

Pixiesue
07-17-2008, 09:21 AM
Wow I must say that there are lots of interesting points brought up here!

ddc
07-17-2008, 10:17 AM
Thanks everyone with your input.

Wow, I'm going to have to read and re-read to soak it all in.
It was a "pop" on the head, a knee jerk reaction, but it sent my son wailing to his room and my brother left the party and no, it never got resolved. We have a way in my family of not really talking about stuff and it gets swept under the rug, but I always feel the tension in the room when we're together.
I will talk with my son about his uncle and find out what he wants to do for his special day and not worry about what everyone else thinks. I think that's alot of my problem - wanting to please everybody - but it makes me feel like the bad guy.

Thanks again everyone. You girls are a great group---THANK YOU!! :)

PhotoChick
07-17-2008, 11:51 AM
I guess I'm going to be the dissenting voice here. I will preface this by saying that I am under the impression that it was a pop with the spoon, and not a louisville slugger whack. That said I think a lesson in manners and what is and is not appropriate for a child to say to an adult is needed. Second if this one incident is all that is bothering this kid about his uncle, he needs to get over himself and move on. Wallowing in this is not healthy and letting an almost 11 year old think that this is appropriate behavior is wrong. But then I'm not a coddling type of parent.

Now assuming that this is my kid and my brother, and it was more then a pop, my brother would have had a quick, unforgettable lesson in how NOT to discipline my child and my child a lesson in how to speak to adults. Then both need to pull on there big boy pants and get a long.

Gotta say I agree with this almost verbatim.

I've been "popped" before for mouthing off. Not in a "beat down" way, but in a "watch your mouth young lady" way. I've also been beaten in an abusive way (to the point that I wound up in foster care for a year). There *is* a difference between the two, no matter what "mandated reporter" training anyone has. And this is why I get so pissed off at people who cry "abuse" when it's not really abuse. A cry of abuse can ruin lives in ways that none of you can even imagine unless you've been there. And a pop with a spoon (even an accidentally too hard pop) is not abuse.

I do think that the 11 year old is being given inappropriate amounts of power here. Holding a grudge for a year is not healthy. And an 11 year old shouldn't be allowed to ban family from a family event (even his birthday) unless there's a serious issue. Otherwise you're just creating a situation where any little slight will be an excuse for another family rift.

The 11 year old is old enough to understand that if he has a problem with his Uncle, he needs to talk about it with another adult and with the uncle.

.

SoulBliss
07-17-2008, 11:56 AM
Photochick, no one is telling her to call CPS. A lot of us are just saying the issue needs to be addressed.

kaplods
07-17-2008, 06:15 PM
The problem with situations discussed on a board like this, is that it's nearly impossible to give anything close to "good" advice, because what we can know of the situation is such a tiny, tiny, tiny tidbit.

I try to give input that would be of value no matter what the situation could be. Is it possible that the kid is over-reacting? You bet! Especially if he sees adults over-reacting. Could the uncle be a jerk that likes to torment the kid? Likewise, yes. Could there be something really bad going on? Yes, even to that. We just don't know, because none of us know all the details.

I agree with SoulBliss this isn't about making a specific decision or following a specific course of action, it's about finding out what's really going on, and not making any decisions until you do. Assuming the kid is being petty and disrespectful without more evidence is as bad as assuming the uncle needs to be "reported" to some agency because he's "abusing" the kid. Either decision is extreme, given that the situation could be just about anything, at htis point. The first order of business is finding out what the problem is, before you can try to fix it (or worse, ignore it).

ddc
07-17-2008, 06:44 PM
I just had a talk with my son. I asked him why he did not want his uncle there and he said it was because of the spoon incident. I talked through the incidents leading up to the spoon incident and let him know that what he did was rude and hurtful, and the reaction by his uncle was not appropriate either. He said he understood. It's also helpful that he's learning about forgiveness at vacation bible school this week. He said that he could come to his birthday dinner, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. I would like to avoid conflict myself. I wish I'd stuck with my first gut feeling to not invite him. But at least we did discuss the problem again (we did talk about it when it happened). Ok, I feel like I'm rambling now.
Thank you all for your input :)

full of grace
07-17-2008, 07:59 PM
I just had a talk with my son. I asked him why he did not want his uncle there and he said it was because of the spoon incident. I talked through the incidents leading up to the spoon incident and let him know that what he did was rude and hurtful, and the reaction by his uncle was not appropriate either. He said he understood. It's also helpful that he's learning about forgiveness at vacation bible school this week. He said that he could come to his birthday dinner, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. I would like to avoid conflict myself. I wish I'd stuck with my first gut feeling to not invite him. But at least we did discuss the problem again (we did talk about it when it happened). Ok, I feel like I'm rambling now.
Thank you all for your input :)

Consider taking your son at his word.

He has said he's okay with his uncle coming to the birthday dinner. Believe him.

And talk to your brother ahead of time to say, "Okay, look. We've talked about the spoon incident and my son is still hurt by it, but understands how it happened, knows what led up to it was wrong, and is working on forgiveness. I'd like you to work on forgiveness too. Forgiving a child for speaking in a rude manner and choosing a non-physical reaction next time if at all possible. Maybe you and my son could have a chat about how stressful that moment was and how you're both so glad it's over and you can both move forward, forgiving one another, and enjoy the party."

I know it's tough if you're in a family where--as you mentioned above--things get swept under the rug and not resolved.

But to stop that cycle of head-in-the-sand-choices is to be the true adult in the situation and create a better family going forward.

You're modeling good behavior for your son by showing him that people can forgive and come together to celebrate occasions.

I know you're still wishing you hadn't invited your brother and you're going to feel anxiety over this decision NO MATTER WHAT, so I'd just like to suggest that you treat it as an experiment in moving the family to a healthier place, in the way they deal with conflict. Hopefully your brother can be at least as mature as your son is willing to be in practicing forgiveness.

And forgive yourself for having invited your brother and then wishing you hadn't. If you REALLY don't want him here, you'll un-invite him. Your son has already said it's okay with him. Trust him that this is true and invite your brother to join in the moving forward you're trying to see happen, here.

GOOD LUCK!!!!

Pixiesue
07-17-2008, 09:06 PM
I also think you should take your son at his word. It is good for him to take this step forward to adulthood

danemom
07-18-2008, 01:11 AM
It's also helpful that he's learning about forgiveness at vacation bible school this week.


But did he understand that in this case forgiveness is a 2 way street? And that next time he should keep his smart mouth shut. And if he does learn how to do that, please call me because at the age of 45, I have not got that one down. :devil:

There is a reason I have a magnet on my desk that says "My family is a freak show with out the tent". Not a day goes by that I don't thank God that they all live out of state, except one sister, who shares this opinion. Family gatherings make me want pie, alcohol, cigarettes, in varying order. :o